The case for keeping James Bradberry is sensible for the Panthers.
They say history forgotten is doomed to repeat itself. In the case of the Panthers, it’s fair to say that things are starting to look kind of similar to four years ago. This time they’ve got a cornerback who’s not as mouthy as the last one, but who has just as much talent.
In the four years that he’s been a Panther James Bradberry has held his own against some of the finest receivers in the NFL. Number twenty-four has won plenty of battles against the rangiest people in the business, and in my opinion he deserves a good chunk of change for his efforts.
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However, his request to break the bank at a time the Panthers need to be somewhat thrifty might not work in his favor. On the flip side, the Panthers might dig themselves into an even deeper hole if they give in to his demands.
For all intents and purposes, the Panthers might have the advantage in this situation. I’m all for bringing him back, but not if it’s going to break the bank. Of course money is the big issue here, but being greedy at this particular point in time won’t pay.
I am convinced someone will pay him, it just won’t be the Panthers. The case for his return is fair, but the case for his exit just makes more sense.
First of all, the depth of this cornerback draft class will afford the Panthers a good pick in the second or third round. There is no doubt in my mind that the Panthers would take one of these young corners to replace Bradberry without hesitation. And the combine is a mere portion of talent available. Once the pro days start the Panthers will definitely start listing names of prospects they’ll snag if they fall to the second or third round.
Second, signing a defensive back to a one-year deal while the team is reconstructing is much more enticing. If it really came down to it, the Panthers could go in-house to replace Bradberry. They drafted three corners in the 2016 draft to make up for the loss of Josh Norman, but now they have two free agents of their own that could reasonably replace Bradberry for at least one year. That’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Aside from Cockrell and Elliot, there are plenty of other free agents that could replace him. If it happens that the Panthers decide to use a good portion of draft capital to stockpile defensive line talent then they could get away with signing a free agent corner to a one-year deal and wait to stockpile defensive backfield talent next year (in a more calculated way than 2016).
Last is the fact that there are more pressing vacancies to fill. The Panthers’ pass defense left a lot to be desired in 2019, but the run defense left much more to be desired. The loss of Kuechly, Olsen, along with impending losses to the wide receiver corps and defensive line will likely drive the priority of cornerback down further if the Panthers can make a plan to find a solution to cornerback situation before free agency frenzy (which is very likely). The Panthers are making a point to be competitive again, and that goes for the economic decisions as well as the football decisions. A younger player somewhere is just preying on the opportunity to step up and make a name for themself in the pass-happy NFC South. Bradberry’s exit is exactly what they want.
James, if you’re reading this, please don’t do this!